July 8th, 2009
Taking Stock
Lesson Overview

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TOPIC / SUBJECT MATTER: Economics, World History

TIME ALLOTMENT: Two 45-minute class periods

In this media-enhanced lesson utilizing clips from the PBS series THE ASCENT OF MONEY, students will be introduced to the concepts of companies, the ownership shares offered by some companies to increase capital and distribute profits and risks, and the stock markets in which such shares are publicly traded as investments.

In an Introductory Activity, students will identify and describe the familiar companies which constitute today’s Dow Jones Industrial Average—the world’s primary index of stock performance. In the Learning Activities, students will explore the origins of companies and stock markets in 17th century Holland, learn about basic dynamics of “bull” and “bear” markets, and test their own investment savvy in an interactive stock market simulation. As a Culminating Activity, students will be asked to research the history and performance of one of the Dow Jones Industrial Average companies they identified in the Introductory Activity.

Ideally, this lesson will be integrated into a unit on basic economics covering the concepts of companies, stocks, stock markets, and the laws of supply and demand.


Students will be able to:
• Define and describe the thirty companies whose collective performance constitutes the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
• Explain the reasons behind the emergence of the world’s first publicly traded company and stock market.
• Describe the process by which overvalued markets can “crash” and cite examples from recent history.
• Define key terminology related to companies, stocks, and stock markets.


Clip 1:

Birth of the Stock Market

Clip 2:

Shock Markets

Access the streaming and downloadable video segments for this lesson at the Video Segments Page.

Play the Market
A PBS-produced interactive simulation of stock investing.

Dow Jones Industrial Average Timeline
A chart of Dow Jones Industrial Average’s performance throughout the 20th century.


National Standards for Economics
Standard 7: Markets – Price and Quantity Determination

• Markets exist when buyers and sellers interact. This interaction determines market prices and thereby allocates scarce goods and services.

Standard 8: Role of Price in Market System

• Prices send signals and provide incentives to buyers and sellers. When supply or demand changes, market prices adjust, affecting incentives.

Standard 14: Profit and the Entrepreneur

• Entrepreneurs are people who take the risks of organizing productive resources to make goods and services. Profit is an important incentive that leads entrepreneurs to accept the risks of business failure.

National Standards for History
World 5-12 Standards

Era 6 – The Emergence of the First Global Age, 1450-1770

Standard 1
How the transoceanic interlinking of all major regions of the world from 1450 to 1600 led to global transformations.

Standard 2
How European society experienced political, economic, and cultural transformations in an age of global intercommunication, 1450-1750.


For the class:
• Computer with internet access and audiovisual projection system
• “Taking Stock” Student Organizer Answer Key (PDF) (RTF)

For each group:
• Computer with internet access

For each student:
• “Taking Stock” Student Organizer (PDF) (RTF)


Prior to teaching this lesson, you will need to:

Preview all of the video segments and Web sites used in the lesson.

Download the video clips used in the lesson to your classroom computer, or prepare to watch them using your classroom’s Internet connection.

Bookmark the Web sites used in the lesson on each computer in your classroom. Using a social bookmarking tool such as del.icio.us or diigo (or an online bookmarking utility such as portaportal) will allow you to organize all the links in a central location.

Next: Proceed to Activities

Lesson plans for THE ASCENT OF MONEY were created by the LAB@Thirteen, Thirteen’s Community and Educational Outreach Department.

Inside This Lesson

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